Orange electrical outlets? We all know most electrical outlets are white, but you probably never thought much about it—until the day you encountered one that’s another color.
If you’ve seen orange electrical outlets, it doesn’t mean that the owners are big San Francisco Giants fans. Orange electrical outlets carry a universal meaning in the electrical world: it’s an isolated ground receptacle.
In addition to being orange, these outlets typically have a green triangle marking. A green dot specifies that it’s a hospital-grade isolated ground outlet.
Isolated ground means that the unit provides electricity that runs directly to the grounding point, separate from other electrical wiring in the home or building. These wires can lead to a neutral or ground connection point, depending on what’s practical. The important part is that the wires are isolated from other electric wires to prevent electric “noise.”
The Problem with Electrical “Noise”
Any electrical signal will fluctuate randomly, producing what we call “noise.” In audio equipment, this produces actual noise—a staticky, crackling noise in the background. It’s the hum of your television when powered on but muted.
However, electrical noise affects more than just audio—it can slightly distort the video on your television as well. We say “noise” metaphorically to mean a fluctuation of electromagnetic waves.
Electrical noise causes problems for sensitive electric equipment like medical and industrial devices that rely on extreme precision and consistency. Just like you don’t want distortion or interference on a microphone, a hospital does not want electrical noise interfering with the performance of diagnostic equipment or life-saving devices.
You would never notice the effects of electrical noise on your toaster, but at home you may be dealing with electrical noise and not realizing it. This is why many homeowners are installing an orange electrical outlet in certain rooms, especially for home entertainment systems.
Reasons to Use Orange Electrical Outlets
The most common places you’ll see orange electrical outlets include:
- Hospitals and healthcare facilities
- Industrial and high-tech commercial facilities
- Home theater rooms and media centers
Other applications include computer networking and other advanced electronics, whenever a reduction in electrical noise seems desirable.
Installing Orange Electrical Outlets
Essentially, an orange electrical outlet functions just the same as a standard electrical outlet. Installation should always be performed by a professional electrician because of the special needs of the wiring. To get the most electrical noise reduction from an isolated ground receptacle—and to avoid extremely dangerous problems—trust a residential or commercial electrician with experience installing an orange electrical outlet.
Steps of the installation process include:
- Remove of the old outlet, if replacing a standard receptacle.
- Run the wiring to the terminal.
- Wire the red, white, black, and copper wires to the appropriate locations.
- Mark the red wire with green phasing tape to mark it as a ground wire.
Once your orange electrical outlet has been properly installed, you can enjoy using your devices without the interference of electrical noise. If you have orange outlets in your home but detect static or fuzz on your TV or in speakers, ask your electrician to investigate—if the isolated ground wiring was not properly installed, you won’t get all the benefits.